BENNINGTON, Neb. -- Duane Braesch's cornfields are prime evidence of how unforgiving the elements have been for him and so many others across the Midwest this summer. To demonstrate the hardship, the 79-year-old Nebraska farmer let The Associated Press show the world what he's weathered during the worst U.S. drought in decades.
Using a camera powered by solar panels and mounted on a pole on a mound overlooking Braesch's cornfield near Omaha, AP photographer Nati Harnik chronicled the wilting effects of extreme heat over August and much of September that turned Braesch's crop from a vibrant emerald to a sickly yellow.
Snapping a picture every 10 minutes, the camera was shrouded in plastic to shield it from rainfall. But significant rain came just twice in 59 days, helping explain why Braesch and his son ultimately reaped just half of what they would typically expect in a harvest.
Yet during a summer in which many other farmers simply declared their crops a complete bust and simply knocked them down for feed to livestock, Braesch figures "we're just pretty lucky we got what we got."
"You wouldn't think there'd be anything out there," he said. "It's amazing it's as good as it is."
That's considering what the time-lapse photos show: Clouds pass over Braesch's farmland day after day, at times teasing the grower with the look of storms but offering little relief other than a rare shower and, more often, meaningless spits of water. The stalks turn discolored, so brittle the leaves scrape each other like sandpaper.